Big rig trucks are an American institution. The country has a vast network of highways requiring trucks with good mileage and rider comfort. The ‘conventional’ hooded haulage tractor is not seen in large numbers outside the American continent. Although these beasts are expensive to purchase, they offer several advantages for US truckers over the ‘stubbier’ European-style models that make them better for long-distance highway hauling.
Many American owner-drivers hold their mounts in great regard and express more than a small amount of pride in them. Here is a list of the most popular haulage truck brands in the USA.
Peterbilt control around 13 percent of the haulage tractor market. This iconic brand, founded in 1939, encapsulates what many Americans think of as the ‘classic’ long-range truck production company. Operating out of Denton, Texas, Peterbilt was started by T A Peterman. Peterman was an experienced engineer working in the logging industry – a notoriously truck-reliant field.
He sought to make the logging industry more efficient. After purchasing a tract of woodland, he purchased several surplus trucks from the US Army and modified them to make them safe for use in the logging industry and on commercial roads. He used these trucks as the basis for his first Peterbilt designs – the 334 and 260. He built both chain-driven designs for the logging industry and shaft-driven designs for highway haulage.
A considerable amount of truck loads hauled by shipping work professionals in the United States are pulled by Freightliner tractors. Freightliner sells around 190 thousand vehicles annually and controls roughly 40 percent of the market. The company, now a Daimler division, began building trucks in 1940 before switching to the fabrication of aircraft parts during the all-consuming Second World War.
After the war finished, the company returned to the truck production business and became a massive success. The company moved to Portland, Oregon in 1947, building vehicles to order. This was the key to the company’s early success and led to them increasing their sales by over 5000 percent between 1950 and 1970. Although Freightliner started out producing cab-over-engine designs, their most popular models are conventional bonneted types.
Kenworth set the market standard in 1914 when they were the first to install a powerful inline 6-cylinder engine in a commercial vehicle.
Founded in 1912 by George and Louie Gerlinger, the Kenworth truck company has developed a reputation for the production of no-nonsense, high-power vehicles that are relatively easy to maintain – making them a favorite of owner-drivers. Kenworth currently holds around 14 percent of the commercial haulage tractor market.
International – formerly known as International Harvester – is a genuinely multinational American truck company. It has dealers in over 90 countries, and sells plenty of trucks around the world – although the United States is by far the largest market for this legendary company. It has an 11 percent share in the domestic truck provision industry.